[Featured Photo: Twitter/Joel Embiid]
What might go down as one of the most iconic 3 words in sports, “Trust The Process” is something not only known around Philly but is becoming a nationwide sensation. The Process is something that has been going on since the 2014-15 season and was started by former Sixers General Manager Sam Hinkie. And even though Hinkie was fired last year, his legacy and planning may very well have finally paid off.
Back in 2013, the Philadelphia 76ers were coming off another disappointing season. Another year not making the playoffs and needing a change. When Sam Hinkie was brought in, he warned the organization and fan base that it was going to be a rough few years for the team. However, that may have been the understatement of the century, as nothing could have prepared the city of Philadelphia and the NBA to a lesser extent for what was to come. Over the last three years, the Sixers have lost more games than any other team in basketball and broken the record for most consecutive losses in a season, losing 28 straight at one point. In the 2015-2016 season, the Sixers won a mere 10 games, only one off from breaking the record for least amount of wins in a season. Sportswriters and columnists were describing the Sixers as an abomination and disgrace to basketball, and many felt the league should step in and do something about the excessive tanking. Not only were the TV ratings down for the team, but their fan attendance ranked among the worst in the league. The team’s poor play also negatively affected other teams’ ticket sales, as less people would want to come out to see their team against the dumpster fire that was the Sixers. Even though the team struggled on the court, they were slowly but surely building through the draft, acquiring a lottery pick player each year of the tanking. But even the draft picks were not immune to turmoil. It seemed like every lottery player the Sixers acquired was cursed with injury. From Nerlens Noel, to Jahlil Okafor, to most recently Ben Simmons, every player missed either a full season or an extended period of time due to injury.
You can’t talk about “The Process” without bringing up Joel Embiid. The talented big man from Cameroon was drafted by the Sixers with the 3rd overall pick in 2014 out of Kansas. The buzz and excitement around Embiid quickly faded when he was ruled out the entire season with a broken bone in his foot. The next year, during the summer, it was found out that Embiid suffered a setback in his rehab and was ruled out of the entire 2015-2016 season. This past season was Embiid’s first one where he played in an NBA regular season game. And even though he only played 33 games before being shut down toward the end of the season, the sample size was more than enough to excite the Philly faithful. In that stretch, Embiid averaged 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game. His play was so great that some considered him for Rookie of the Year even though he only played a third of the season. Not only is Embiid entertaining on the court, but he also has been entertaining off the court as well. It started off first by Embiid having the public-address guy introduce him as Joel “The Process” Embiid during player introductions. He has also gotten in the good graces of many of the more well-known NBA players, as well as entertainment personalities. He can be constantly seen joking around and trolling people on Twitter and Instagram. He’s even publicly said his celebrity crush was Rihanna. Embiid, or JoJo as some fans call him, is exactly the type of personality needed not only for a rebuilding team, but also for the rest of the league.
With all that said, the light at the end of the tunnel may be visible, and the cloudy skies might be clearing up, as the process has just about come full circle. A few days ago, the Sixers drafted point guard Markelle Fultz out of Washington. Fultz, regarded as the best player in the draft, was the final piece the Sixers were missing. They finally got their starting point guard and are ready to start taking the league by storm. Ben Simmons should start the season healthy and is sure to be a crowd favorite. With all this young talent on the roster, it’ll be interesting to see which one of them is the fan favorite. Embiid has already nicknamed the group of young guns “The FEDS” (Fultz, Embiid, Dario, Simmons). With a starting lineup consisting of Fultz, Embiid, Saric, Simmons and Covington they may just have what it takes to bring basketball joy back on Broad Street.